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Jax Wechsler - Neuro-Science and Design Research

Jax Wechsler - Neuro-Science and Design Research

Neuroscience is an interdisciplinary field focused on the brain, and its impact on how people think and act in the world. Design research is also interested in human thinking and behaviour and can learn a lot from neuroscience. Hear some design research tips and tricks inspired by the field of Neuroscience.

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March 17, 2022
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  1. Jax Wechsler | UX Australia Design Research Conference 2022 


    Sticky Design Studio | jax@stickydesignstudio.com.au Neuroscience & Design Research Photo by Moritz Kindler on Unsplash
  2. My Sweet Spot!

  3. None
  4. Topics we will cover • Neuroscience, Body & Mind •

    Polyvegal Theory, Cognition & Behaviour • Co-regulation & Embodied Self-Awareness • Strengths, Visioning & Change • Re fl ective Practice & Learning • Creative Cognition Photo by John Anvik on Unsplash
  5. BEING BEING DOING IMPLICATIONS 
 FOR DESIGN PRACTICE THEORY

  6. Acknowledgements Standing on the shoulders of giants •Stephen Porges •Deb

    Dana •Amanda Blake •Alan Fogel •Ann Betz •Richard Boyatsis •Coaches Rising
  7. Neuroscience any or all of the sciences which deal with

    the structure or function of the nervous system and brain.
 
 
 
 
 Photo by Fabio Santaniello Bruun on Unsplash
  8. Photo by Fabio Santaniello Bruun on Unsplash Neuroscience is a

    young science, and is evolving very quickly!!! Neuroscience any or all of the sciences which deal with the structure or function of the nervous system and brain.
 
 
 
 
 Science is just one of many ways of knowing
  9. Nervous System The network of nerve cells and fi bres

    which transmits nerve impulses between parts of the body. We all have a nervous system. That’s the foundation of our thoughts, feelings, beliefs, and behaviours. 
 
 
 
 
 Photo by Raphael Schaller on Unsplash
  10. Descartes Cogito, ergo sum 
 ’I think therefore I am’

  11. Descartes But actually…. Cogito, ergo sum 
 ’I think therefore

    I am’
  12. 
 The brain and body are inseparably interwoven via the

    nervous system.
  13. 
 Intelligence & Consciousness 
 is distributed throughout the body

    
 The brain and body are inseparably interwoven via the nervous system.
  14. Polyvegal Theory, Cognition & Behaviour


  15. “The nervous system is at the heart of our lived

    experience.” 
 - Deb Dana
  16. None
  17. Polyvegal Theory : Neuroception “Internal Surveillance System” - Deb Dana

    INNER WORLD OUTER WORLD BETWEEN RELATIONSHIPS Neurological mechanisms involved in perceptions of safety, danger or life threat Adapted from the work of Stephen Porges & Deb Dana
  18. AUTONOMIC NERVOUS SYSTEM Polyvegal Theory : Hierarchy

  19. AUTONOMIC NERVOUS SYSTEM Polyvegal Theory : Hierarchy SYMPATHETIC 
 NERVOUS

    SYSTEM System of Mobilisation SYMPATHETIC 
 NERVOUS SYSTEM >> FIGHT/FLIGHT<<
  20. AUTONOMIC NERVOUS SYSTEM Polyvegal Theory : Hierarchy PARA-SYMPATHETIC 
 NERVOUS

    SYSTEM SYMPATHETIC 
 NERVOUS SYSTEM System of Mobilisation SYMPATHETIC 
 NERVOUS SYSTEM >> FIGHT/FLIGHT<<
  21. AUTONOMIC NERVOUS SYSTEM Polyvegal Theory : Hierarchy PARA-SYMPATHETIC 
 NERVOUS

    SYSTEM PARA-SYMPATHETIC 
 NERVOUS SYSTEM SYMPATHETIC 
 NERVOUS SYSTEM System of Mobilisation SYMPATHETIC 
 NERVOUS SYSTEM >> FIGHT/FLIGHT<<
  22. AUTONOMIC NERVOUS SYSTEM Polyvegal Theory : Hierarchy DORSAL VAGUS System

    of Immobilisation PARA-SYMPATHETIC 
 NERVOUS SYSTEM System of Immobilisation >>FREEZE<< DORSAL VAGUS SYMPATHETIC 
 NERVOUS SYSTEM System of Mobilisation SYMPATHETIC 
 NERVOUS SYSTEM >> FIGHT/FLIGHT<<
  23. AUTONOMIC NERVOUS SYSTEM Polyvegal Theory : Hierarchy PARA-SYMPATHETIC 
 NERVOUS

    SYSTEM System of Immobilisation >>FREEZE<< DORSAL VAGUS SYMPATHETIC 
 NERVOUS SYSTEM System of Mobilisation SYMPATHETIC 
 NERVOUS SYSTEM >> FIGHT/FLIGHT<<
  24. AUTONOMIC NERVOUS SYSTEM System of Connection System of Mobilisation Polyvegal

    Theory : Hierarchy PARA-SYMPATHETIC 
 NERVOUS SYSTEM System of Mobilisation System of Immobilisation >>FREEZE<< DORSAL VAGUS VENTRAL VAGUS >>SAFETY<< SYMPATHETIC 
 NERVOUS SYSTEM System of Mobilisation SYMPATHETIC 
 NERVOUS SYSTEM >> FIGHT/FLIGHT<<
  25. System of Connection System of Immobilisation >>FREEZE<< DORSAL VAGUS VENTRAL

    VAGUS >>SAFETY<< SYMPATHETIC 
 NERVOUS SYSTEM AUTONOMIC NERVOUS SYSTEM PARA-SYMPATHETIC 
 NERVOUS SYSTEM SYMPATHETIC 
 NERVOUS SYSTEM VENTRAL VAGUS DORSAL VAGUS System of Safety + Connection System of Mobilisation System of Immobilisation SAFETY Health, growth, re PROTECTION through ac PROTECTION through d ADAPTED from Deb Dana System of Mobilisation HYPO - AROUSAL HYPER - AROUSAL Polyvegal Theory : Hierarchy SYMPATHETIC 
 NERVOUS SYSTEM >> FIGHT/FLIGHT<<
  26. States of dis-regulation DORSAL VAGUS SYMPATHETIC 
 NERVOUS SYSTEM

  27. CONNECT PROTECT Disregulation : fi ght/ fl ight or freeze

    Regulation : homeostasis
  28. Neurobiology of Disregulation

  29. None
  30. Implications for Design Research • When we perceive threat, our

    nervous systems gets disregulated. 
 We show physical signs - you can notice this in self and others • People who have experienced trauma may perceive threat often and easily fall into disregulated states impacting their cognition. • When we perceive threat and are in disregulated states, our cognitive capacity, creativity and ability to work and be together is negatively impacted • Feeling safe is important for how we relate and how we think
  31. What if your neurophysiology could support safety and connection in

    others?
  32. Co-regulation &
 Embodied Awareness

  33. “Micro-moment to micro-moment, below the level of our conscious awareness,

    we are continuously broadcasting to the world our nervous system’s state, all the time, and other nervous systems are picking it up. We are then receiving from the biology of the people around us these messages, again below the level of awareness.” 
 
 - Deb Dana
  34. We are linked
 Nervous System to Nervous System Our Nervous

    systems co-regulate.
  35. Embodied awareness allows us to respond creatively and responsibly in

    the moment. Self-awareness is embodied
  36. Photo by Patrick Fore on Unsplash Embodied self-awareness is a

    journey….
  37. Manage your own 
 embodied response > Try slowing your

    breathing down, > Try speaking slowly > Speak in a gentle calm, voice
  38. Meeting distress You can help someone move through anxiety and

    come back to the present moment by inviting them to (1) feel their in and out-breath (2) name some objects in the room (2) wiggle and feel their toes (4) name 3 things they are hearing
  39. You help regulate the bodies of those around you!

  40. What I am sensing in my body? 
 What state

    is my nervous system in?
  41. Implications for Design Research • A regulated nervous system enables

    creativity and higher level thinking • Being in a regulated state, can in fl uence others bringing them into a regulated state too. • Don’t freak out if someone else is in a disreglated states. Bring your self into regulation. • In work and in play, it is good to become familiar with your own autonomic states and fi nd ways to bring yourself back into regulation eg Taking deep breaths, Feeling into the sensations of your body.
  42. Neuroscience, 
 Visioning & Change 


  43. Activating openness to change - Richard Boyatsis Vision Relationships Strengths

  44. Positive 
 Emotional Attractors (PEA)

  45. Negative 
 Emotional Attractors (NEA)

  46. Appreciative Inquiry Being strengths based

  47. Visioning practices 
 Photos from Social Design Sydney Co-Design Workshop

    with Liz Sanders in 2018
  48. Implications for Design Research • Do not begin a project

    focused on the problems if you want to seed change. • Incorporate visioning exercises into your stakeholder and participant engagement. Co-design and making are playful ways to envision. • Focus on strengths - Consider Appreciative Inquiry as a strength based research approach for interviews and workshops. • Creating visions for the future stimulates creativity and openness for change • Make sure you keep returning to the vision!
  49. Reflective Practice 
 & Learning

  50. Learning is Neuroplasticity The brain's ability to change and adapt

    as a result of experience. Learning builds on and changes existing neural networks. Learning requires practice through strengthening of new neural pathways.
  51. Learning only occurs when a learner can execute all four

    stages of the model. Requires re fl ective practice. Kolb’s Learning Cycle
  52. 
 Re fl ective Practice Donald Schon • Donald Schon.

    The Re fl ective Practitioner • Re fl ection-on-action is re fl ected after a particular incident/situation, we analyse, review, and evaluate • Re fl ection-in-action re fl ects on the behaviour that happens • Knowing in action - tacit knowledge
  53. Re fl ection-on-action Re fl ection-in-action knowing in action

  54. What have I learned today?

  55. Rest and Space The brain needs spacing. It needs time

    to process and re fl ect on learning. The value of rest and daydreaming for learning and cognition is can not be underestimated.
  56. Default and Task 
 Mode Networks Two ways of thinking

    Two networks in the brain
  57. Default Mode Network • Di ff use attention, this is

    what the brain does at rest. • Appears to be the default mode of the brain when we’re not engaged in the world out there. • Higher creativity and openness to new ideas • The background network that helps us understand ourselves and others • Helps us be wise
  58. Emotion & Learning Learning is strengthened with it occurs in

    the presence of strong emotion.
  59. How might you stimulate emotion when sharing your research to

    encourage learning?
  60. • Create time for re fl ection about your practice

    alone and with your team - turn it into a ritual • Create spaces in your research process for rest - engineer space between tasks for people to be in the Default Mode Network • Appeal to emotion when presenting your research as it stimulates learning Implications for Design Research
  61. Creative Cognition 


  62. 6 Keys for 
 Creative Cognition • (Trust & Safety)

    • Listening • Humour & Play • Trust • Novelty • Externalisation •
  63. Listening encourages creativity in others

  64. Humour & Play • Stimulates learning, creativity & cognition •

    ‘Connect’ not ‘protect’ mode • Positive Emotional Attractors
  65. Externalisation • Expands cognition • Encourages learning • Supports communication

    & collaboration
  66. None
  67. Novelty • Stimulates Learning • Positive emotional Attractors • Creativity,

    collaboration and problem solving
  68. Generative Design Research Visioning, play, novelty, externalisation SRC: Liz Sanders

  69. Implications for Design Research • Ensure people feel safe •

    Ensure people feel heard : this encourages creative thinking • Consider utilising objects and making to extend cognition and increase creativity and problem solving capacity • When designing generative design research activities and workshops (co- design) consider using novelty, play, humour, externalisation to encourage creativity
  70. Cultivate Your
 Self-Awareness

  71. Your presence and self awareness is important for Design Research

    and for your life! 
 
 A pathway to self awareness is through your body. • Can become present in the moment • Notice states of dis-regulation in yourself and others • Enhance connection with others • Create safety through co-regulation • Increase our presence in the moment • Respond (!) and pivot in the moment
  72. When we work through the body we engage with the

    fundamental life energy that animates and shapes who we are. When we connect with this core energy we contact a vast reservoir of wisdom, compassion, and intelligence that we’ve neglected. “ - Richard Strozzi-Heckler “
  73. Thanks! Jax Wechsler jax@stickydesignstudio.com.au | @jacwex https://www.linkedin.com/in/jacquelinewechsler/